LONDON -- The serious gas leak on Total SA's (TOT) Elgin field in the North Sea late last month could affect the ratings of oil and gas companies operating in the region if it encourages the European Union to implement tougher regulation, rating agency Fitch Ratings said Tuesday.
The EU is currently considering proposals which would require companies seeking new drilling licenses in the region to prove they have the financial means to pay for any accidental environment damage.
Fitch estimates that the amount any operator in the EU would need to prove is available to obtain an offshore operating permit could amount to EUR10 billion.
The ratings agency said it would probably view any funds earmarked for a financial means test as segregated in its financial calculations.
"Such an approach could have negative rating consequences for even the highest investment-grade oil and gas companies operating in EU territorial waters," it said.
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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